Nippy sweeties for the mites

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Went round them all today - 15 colonies for the local association plus ten of my own. Trickling the 25 colonies in four apiaries up to 10 miles apart took 3 hours. Nice to see Lorna at the association apiary helping out. OK, I only did 24 as one of mine boiled out and flew in numbers at me when I prized off the corner of the crown board. I'll try it again in a few days. Otherwise they were mostly clustered to varying degrees of compaction.

My impressions? At three apiaries their stores were holding out well. At one, my main one, they've burnt most of the heather honey they brought home or the syrup stores they were given. There the colonies were stronger than I expected at this time of year, but that often happens with bees that were on the heather with young queens. Two at 8 seams of bees, one at 9, and the rest mostly 5 or 6. If it is the case that they've been using their heather stores to make bees, the young bees should get the colonies off to a good start in 2014 (barring any of the usual spring problems).

Of all the others there was one that stayed at 2 frames all summer and it is still that size. I'll probably lose it (and probably should!). The others at the association site may be viable, going into winter as about 4 to 9 frames and one or two frames down on that now, in a mixture of Paynes 6-frame boxes and Swienty 10-frame ones.

I have two single-colony apiaries in town in Dundee. One had shrunk a lot in size with plenty of dead bees out front but it still looks viable. The other has 5 seams. Both have plenty of stores, perhaps because they've been foraging through the mild autumn.

It is, of course, too early to be sure what the colonies will be like when spring arrives, but the signs are good so far - as long as I feed the light ones.

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Updated 16-12-2013 at 09:48 AM by gavin



  1. Jon's Avatar
    That all sounds pretty good. I noticed a nuc at the association apiary was packed with bees but light and it had been fed well. On balance, it is probably better to have the extra bees but care will be needed re the level of stores and feeding fondant
  2. gavin's Avatar
    I had the fondant in the back of the car but had forgotten to take a knife. Should get it sorted in the next couple of days then they'll be set until maybe mid March as half a (or maybe a full) 12.5kg box above their heads will see them through for a while. A cold spell in Jan-Feb to keep them quiet then mild from March should suit them.

    These colonies that eat their stores and make lots of young bees - are they less likely to be Amm, or is Amm happy to take advantage of good conditions when it can?
    Updated 15-12-2013 at 10:54 PM by gavin
  3. Jon's Avatar
    I think that any race of bee will rear more bees if it is mild and there is abundant pollen.
    The problem is that some races continue to rear brood when the conditions are not right. Italians have this reputation for rearing brood right through the winter and consuming stores.
    I talk to the other native bee people including the Galtee breeders on a regular basis and their bees were hammering in with pollen right through the autumn which is a pretty strong indicator that they were rearing brood.
    I trickled a colony and 2 nucs in the garden yesterday and they looked fine and should overwinter well. The colony had 6 seams, and the nucs in poly boxes had 5 and 4. Checked today and very little drop. None from the nucs and about a dozen mites from the colony - one which dropped 800 at the start of November. Must have cleared most of them out the last time.